Antonio Rogerio Nogueira got a break last night from fighting the young guns of the UFC light-heavyweight division, instead taking on fellow long time veteran and former champion Tito Ortiz.
This bout was a tough challenge for Nogueira, who was in danger of going on a three fight losing streak if he did not come up with a win. However, it only took one round for the Brazilian to dispatch the "Huntington Beach Bad Boy," easily finishing the former champion with less than two minutes to go in the first frame.
This victory was one of Nogueira's most impressive wins inside the UFC, and showed that his legend of the sport still has a lot left in the tank.
Initially, Ortiz was pushing the action, blasting Nogueira with uppercuts and punches from the clinch. Ortiz was able to get the better of the dirty boxing with the former Pride star in the opening minute of the fight.
But with a little over three minutes left in the first round, Nogueira was able to circle out of the clinch and hit Ortiz hard with a left hook that stunned the former champion. Nogueira smelled blood in the water and pounced, landing a solid knee to the face and a host of looping punches that forced Ortiz to put his hands up in defense.
Nogueira's boxing skills started to shine through as he varied his strikes, going body to head. Ortiz could do nothing but cover up.
What really turned the fight in Nogueira's favor was a knee landed to Ortiz's head that sent him to the canvas. Ortiz struggled to recover from the barrage Nogueira was blasting him with and was somehow able to get to guard.
Rather than go a pure jiu-jitsu route—something that would be expected of a black belt like Nogueira—he instead chose to ground and pound Ortiz, ironic as Ortiz is widely considered a pioneer of the tactic.
Continuing to go between the head and the body, Nogueira used vicious punches and elbows to decimate Ortiz on the ground, leaving him no opportunities to strike back, sweep, or throw up a submission. The constant attacks forced Ortiz to just cover up, as he had no response to the strikes.
Nogueira's strategy was perfect as the fight finished. Having show a weakness to body shots in the past, Ortiz was susceptible to Nogueira's elbows and punches to his left oblique. Eating so many to that side, Ortiz was unable to continue and Nogueira took the win.
This victory was so impressive for Nogueira not only because it got him back to his winning ways, but also because he so thoroughly dominated a former champion with his superior striking skills.
If Nogeuira can keep this pace up and impose his will on future opponents, then maybe this long time veteran can stay on a significant winning streak.
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